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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on September 16, 2014

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Spaced Out:

@ March 3, 2012 1:30 PM in Expansion tank issues

Does the primary/secondary loop configuration in this system that you did not install conform to this?
Note especially the part about distance for closely spaced tees AND the distance from the closely spaced tees to turning ells?
It does make a difference.

When using an iSeries-R Mixing Valve, the following piping requirements
must be considered for proper operation.
1. In order to hydraulically isolate the boiler loop from the injection or system
loop primary/secondary piping must be used. There must be no
more than 4 pipe diameters between the tees in the boiler loop (Note 1).
2. There must be at least 6 pipe diameters of straight pipe on either side
of the tees (Note 2) in order to prevent the momentum of water in the
boiler loop from pushing flow through the injection loop.
3. There should be a minimum of 1 foot drop on the return pipe of the
injection loop, in order to create a thermal trap (Note 3) and prevent
unwanted heat transfer.
4. When using a 2-way iSeries-R Mixing Valve, a balancing valve must
be located between the tees in the system loop, in order to provide a
pressure drop to induce flow through the mixing loop.

Heating Extrols Vs Well Extrols:

@ March 3, 2012 1:21 PM in Expansion tank issues

I've not seen this answered.
On Well Extrols, the instructions tell you to set the tank pressure at 2# PSIG below the "Cut-In" pressure . Ie: If the cut in pressure is 20#, (20/40# pressure switch) set the tank pressure at 18 PSIG. Cut in at 30#, (30#/50# switch)  set it at 28#. I find that it is better to set them at 3 to 5 pounds below the cut-in pressure to stop any possibility of the water stopping while the pressure switch closes, the pump starts and the water gets going. I can't remember how many years I have followed this rule. But it was shortly after the first complaint of the water pausing while the pump built pressure.
If you look on the Amtrol Website, there are no instructions on what to set the pre-charge pressure to for heating Extrols. We are left in the wilderness.  And the instructions in the box is no different. To my aged and deteriorating brain, the heating Extrols come pre-set at approximately 12#. If the system pressure is at 15#, you have a 3# cushion. If it is at 12#, you have no cushion. If you set the system pressure to 18#, you have a 6# cushion. It is suggested by some to raise the precharge to equal the system pressure. That would give you no "reserve" if the system cooled and the system water contracted.
On systems I see with air problems, the PRV is usually stuck and the system is 10# or below. Hit the by-pass and the system may not ever stop filling.
If the system is precharged to 12# and you run the system pressure at 18# with a 6# differential, it works fine and you have more room for expansion.
On a well Extrol you cannot set the pressure the same as the cut-in pressure. It must always be lower than the cut-in pressure. Why is this not so in a heating system?
An inquiring mind is asking.

Extrol Tank Precharge:

@ March 3, 2012 1:00 PM in Expansion tank issues

That's easy enough to check without doing that. Drop the system pressure to zero and check both tanks with a tire gauge. They both should show pressure and the same amount..

As I see it,

@ March 3, 2012 12:33 PM in Expansion tank issues

As "I" see it, 0 (zero) PSIG at Sea Level isn't the same as "0" at 5000 feet. Therefore, when the water in the system gauge says  "0" at 5000', it isn't the same as "0" at sea level. Therefore, the boiling point is lower at 5,000 feet.
On Mt Everest, climbers have a lot of difficulties. One is that a lot of food needs heat to release nutrients that the body can take up. The product may need to be heated to 175 degrees for the nutrients to be released. Especially in dried or dehydrated foods. But water may be boiling at 150 degrees at higher altitudes. You can't get the water/liquid hot enough without it all boiling away.
Taco is recognizing what some of us have felt for years that cavitation in pumps was a big problem. But we are considered "contrary".
Consider this. If you had a system that you filled to 12# PSIG, and you moved the entire system to Denver Colorado without opening it up, what would happen to the pressure?  (Hint: It doesn't go down.)
What happens to a system filled to 12# PSIG Gauge in Denver Colorado and you move it to The Island of Long?  (Hint: It doesn't stay the same.)
As I see it.
Those climbers on Mt Everest could put their food and water in a pressure cooker. But if they tried to open it, it would explode if the water temperature was higher than the outside pressure keeping the boiling point down.
Isn't this sort of how vapor/vacuum steam systems work?


@ March 3, 2012 12:15 PM in Expansion tank issues

Bingo !!
You hit it on the head. "Flashing in the cartridge." Flashing into what? STEAM.
Try resettng the pressure to 20# and then turn on the boiler. If the problem goes away, it's the pressure. All those pumps trying to do their thing can and will become willful children and creat havoc in the system.
Do you understand need to raise the pressure in the system when the system is at a higher level above sea level?
Its important.

New zone, a very good idea.

@ March 3, 2012 10:08 AM in Waller House

The radiator on a separate zone. As it should have been from the start. Probably what YOU would have done in the beginning. The homeowner wanted to save money by doing it himself. The cost of your futzing around, trying to figure out HIS mistake, is costing you both money.
It will NEVER work as hoped as the way it is. Zone Valves are cheap.

Pressure Issues:

@ March 3, 2012 10:03 AM in Expansion tank issues

The pressure at 12 would do the same as 18... except that you need at least 14 for NPSH and now Taco requires 20 for systems above 5000 feet... so.. 18 seems like a good middle of the road number... I don't agree with the 20psi requirement.....

Funny thing about that pressure thing. I was talking to a gas and heating professional that does a lot of troubleshooting about such things. I told him about raising pressures on systems where there were high parts in systems and air being sucked into can or auto vents. I don't remember when this conversation occurred. Last week, he told me that after I told him that, he went to their office and raised the pressure to 20#, For 17 years, the air handler in the attic of their two story building would get air bound, and for 17 years, he would need to go up there multiple times during the heating season. Since he raised the pressure to 20#, he hasn't had to go up and vent it once.
I remember things like that.
Do you understand why you need to raise the pressure above 5000 feet? There's an explanation

Oil Smell:

@ March 3, 2012 9:50 AM in Above-ground Oil Tank Leak at Fill-Pipe?

No big deal. Unless the tank is overfilled out of the tank and into the vent and fill.
IMO, it;s caused by a high volume fill rate and foaming of the oil. Before the liquid level gets to the bottom of the whistle (where the leak is), the foam is into the whistle assembly. After the fuel is shut off, the product leaks out through the thread. One drop of product dropped in water will make it appear that the Exxon Valdez dumped its load. The same with the smell. The easiest thing to do is wipe the oil off the tank top after a delivery. You could leave a clean rag around the whistle and after a fill, if it has leaked, replace it.
You can take the whole thing apart and repair it. This thought is giving me a headache. But, that said, unscrew the vent piping and put new pipe dope on the threads. Make sure you have two, 2' pipe wrenches. You will need to remove the concrete/mortar where the pipes go through the wall unless wood. You should NEVER use Teflon Tape on the threads. They stop the leaks. That said, I have used Teflon Tape for over 40 years on EVERYTHING I thread together. Especially oil tanks. The threads usually suck and they always seem to want to leak where yours do, on the top. I use Teflon Tape and Rectumseal #5 on the threads, male and female. #5 is totally impervious to fuel oil. If you get it on your clothes, it will never come off. Every leak I ever see on an oil tank like yours has no Teflon tape on the threads. Regardless of what type of thread sealant used. And I've used most of them.
If you call a professional to fix it, he will get a headache and not want to deal with the factoid of unintended consequences because he/she won't want to use Teflon tape and it may leak worse than now.
After the above, put a rag around it is leaking slightly. I've seen them run down the side of the tank.
You can also ask the fuel company to slow down the delivery rate but that may fall on deaf ears.


@ March 3, 2012 1:49 AM in Actual heat loss vs. calculated heat loss....

I guess we don't see the same trees that make up the forest,
The thermostat is the speed control. When it "sees" that the speed is rising because of a  drop in incline (rise in temperature), the throttle closes. When the speed starts to drop, the throttle opens and gives more power.
If you set the ODR reset curve, perfectly, and set the room temperature at 70 degrees, and all is equal, the room will be 70 degrees. You don't need a thermostat. But if you install one, and you turn the thermostat down to 60 degrees, theoretically, you have raised the outside temperature by 10 degrees outside. The thermostat will stop the heat. But when you turn the thermostat back to 70 degrees, you have lowered the outside temperature (theoretically) by 20 degrees. You will need hotter water in the system to recover. There needs to be a simple control that will interpret the differential when the system doesn't come back as quickly as it should and when the room temperature comes up, it backs off.
If you drive your car at 35 MPH down an on-ramp to a highway, what would happen if you couldn't change the throttle setting? or say, you were running at 2000 RPM at 35 MPH but would run at 3000 RPM at 65 MPH. If you set the gas at 3000 RPM as you went on to the highway, for a mile or two before you get to 65 MPH? You might want 4000 RPM until you get to 65 MPH and back off to 3000. And then modulate the throttle. That's what heating systems should do, it's not what they do.
I have a customer with a heat recovery unit with P/S piping and ODR. It works this way as long as the system temperature is high enough.
There has to be a way.  

Are you kidding?

@ March 3, 2012 1:17 AM in Question

Do you have a license? Did you take out a permit? Does the "Contractor" have a gas installers license and did HE take out a permit? Are you working for him and putting your liability in his hands where you have the liability and he gets to call the shots?
Who is this "Contractor" and what special training does HE have to make a decision like this? I would be asking the gas inspector for an exemption for the undersized piping because the "contractor" doesn't want to pay for it. Get the AHJ to kiss and bless it. Have Mr. Contractor go and get the waiver for the piping. Where I work, he will be laughed out of the office.
In Massachusetts today, if you decide that you want to be a plumber/gas fitter, you go to work for a licensed Master Plumber and be paid above the table, for five years, 250 days per year (full time) with tax records. During that time, you need 100 hours of applied schooling per year (500 hours total) with an instructor approved by the Department of Education. No exceptions. THEN, you can take your exams. After all that, you will let some PA "contractor" tell you how to do your job?
This is a joke. Code regulations are written for a reason.
The owner and contractor don't get to call the shots. The AHJ and codes do.

Checks & Balances:

@ March 3, 2012 12:50 AM in Expansion tank issues

If those circles with diagonal lines denote check valves next to the secondary loop, the fill is in a locked loop between two check valves, the second being the rotten IFC's in the check valves. It you had a real wet head check valve, you would be able to manually open the check and see if the problem would stop. As it is, you can't. The first tank, tank "A" is being hydraulically isolated from the system and the system can't "see" what the tank (A) is doing. Not so with tank "B". It is on another side of the rotten IFC's.
It seems to me but I can't "see" the drawing that well.


@ March 2, 2012 4:34 PM in constant ignition required

The wind causes the draft to go both ways. Draft dampers only swing one way with oil and RC's. Model "M"'s, that swing both ways aren't usually used on oil.
The problem is that the positive pressure into the chamber will blow the flame back into the retention ring. If there isn't a spark to help keep the flame, you get a flame out.
Trust me. You haven't seen draft like you do where I work. You can be standing next to a flue and all is quiet, the burner isn't running. You can hear the wind in the chimney. Suddenly, a blast of air hits you on the side of your face. Like FM.
Remember, flowing air has a lower pressure than static air. That's what makes draft. The higher the wind speed, the worse the draft. Every wood or coal stove I ever had smoked like a druggie when the wind was blowing hard. It would just "Puff" right back down.


@ March 2, 2012 4:27 PM in fuel pump pressure

If you put any gauge on the return of the pump, make sure it is a compound pressure vacuum gauge. If you put a vacuum only gauge on the return and there is pressure, you may destroy the gauge.


@ March 2, 2012 4:27 PM in fuel pump pressure

If you put any gauge on the return of the pump, make sure it is a compound pressure vacuum gauge. If you put a vacuum only gauge on the return and there is pressure, you may destroy the gauge.

Piped Wrong, You didn't pipe it:

@ March 2, 2012 4:17 PM in Waller House

Not to harp on this, but you need to look at this in a different way. If you understand what you are doing, look at the connection as if it wasn't there and you were asked to connect a radiator into the existing system. You are looking at it as to how to fix it. You need to first look at it by HOW you would have done it.
In spite of what some of said, I consider the pipes that carry the water from the boiler and back to the boiler as the "Mains" on a direct or reverse return system. Every radiator is a branch. I don't know as I have ever seen the "Old Timers" connect another radiator to a supply to another radiator. Someone may not get heat. I find when something is piped wrong, I need to figure out HOW it was piped wrong. Looking at those pictures gave me a headache.
The person who installed it, did it wrong. That's why you were called.
When the system is cold, start it. Follow every pipe and figure out where it goes and how it works. If the radiator that it is connected to is working and the basement one isn't, its piped wrong. If it was piped correctly, it would be working. It isn't. 

Ruled Out:

@ March 2, 2012 7:21 AM in Waller House

Then, you ruled that out.
It's very hard to tell in the pictures but one shows what seems to be the basement radiator tied in to an upstairs radiator circuit loop. If that is the case, ME's former BIL is at it again. Round and round he goes.
I still think it is piped wrong. It's just hard to see with all the insulation covering the pipe and where things go. I personally, usually have to cast my eye on the piping and figure out where ME's former BIL is going wrong.
God Bless ME's BIL, where ever he may be. He has solved a lot of questions for me. Never miss the opportunity to learn something from someone. You never know who will be carrying the message.

Burners requiring Constant Ignition:

@ March 2, 2012 7:02 AM in constant ignition required

Where I work, where the wind can be blowing the rectal orifice out of a bovine animal one day and dead calm the next day, if you set up a certain very popular burner that is a fixed head burner that everyone says to check the "Z" dimension (I've never found it off unless the end cone fell off), and you set it up on a mild day, when said wind is trying to injure said bovine animal, the flame can  be sucked away from the end cone, "Z" dimension be damned, and rumble like a thunderstorm in the distance if it has interuppted ignition. Changing it to constant ignition makes the thunderstorm go away. Usually.
Works for me.

Sucked air:

@ March 2, 2012 6:54 AM in Waller House

Raise the system pressure to 18# and the problem will go away.
And make sure that the gauge pressure is accurate. Like it says "zero" when there is no pressure in the system.
Just because the gauge says 12# doesn't mean it is reading 12#.

Intake Air:

@ March 1, 2012 8:02 PM in Your thoughts please...

If you are in an area with a lot of cold humidity, you can really have a problem. Cols air will hold a lot of moisture and when temperature and dew-points get together, problems occur. Some boiler manufacturers are suggesting to not take fresh air from outside if you are near the ocean or areas where the intake air has a lot of moisture.
I saw a 5 YO direct vent horizontal furnace, properly installed, with the intake/exhaust facing the West and the PVC exhaust was absolutely black, it was running so black. I told the owner to get hold of the guy who installed it.
I don't know what the answer is.

Controling the cruise:

@ March 1, 2012 5:17 PM in Actual heat loss vs. calculated heat loss....

Not so Larry.
ODR is the ultimate cruise control. The theory is that the circulator should never shut off and hold the temperature just at the set point and never shut down. As the temperature goes up with standard ODR, the circulator stops. Ir remains as the temperature and system temperature goes up. But, when the outdoor temperature goes down, the system temperature goes up. It follows the curve, In an automobile in cruise control, it doesn't matter how high the hill is, the engine tried to speed up and the transmission downshifts.
If you have a system like fin tube baseboard, a low mass system, you need to be able to tell the system temperature to rise with a drop in outside conditions. Or set back thermostats coming on. Because that is the same as lowering the outside temperature as much as the set back is.
If you used a 4 way mixer like the Taco "I" series, you can let the boiler loop run at what you want. With a controller, the 4-way controller controls the system temperature.

Automobile Cruise Control:

@ March 1, 2012 1:46 PM in Actual heat loss vs. calculated heat loss....

Mark E. and I had this discussion a while back. "I" say that there needs to be a "cruise control" for heating systems. When I am driving to Florida in my 2001 BMW 325XI wagon with 130,000 + miles, going down '95 with the cruise control set at 75 MPH, the car drives at 75 MPH no matter what I do unless I step on the brake, gas pedal and click "Off" once. If I am going down an incline, the gas drops back. If I go up an incline, the gas goes up. The brain doesn't know why, but the speed (temperature) is dropping or rising. So, the computer takes appropriate action.
They figured this all out for cars. Why not on heating systems? ODR should and do this as long as there is a thermostat connected and you don't go below the design curve.
Simple logic.

Test equipment and performance:

@ March 1, 2012 9:32 AM in Unauthorized Testing Equipment

I think that there would be a lot of blow-back if this idea of checking efficiency was in effect. Someone (like us) installs equipment that is supposed to be 95%+ and no matter how you try, it won't get over 90%, and you had replaced it for 85% because you installed equipment that was rated under lab. conditions. I'm tired of doing the selling of mis rated equipment.
It's like the MPG on vehicles. Of all the vehicles I have EVER owned, only one came even close to the MPG on the window when I bought it. The only vehicle ever bought that that met that  ratings is my 2001 BMW 325XL wagon. It is rated for 24 MPG Highway miles and actually gets 28 MPG at 70 MPH on the highway even after 130,000 miles. My 2000 Ford E-150 van with the 4.6 L V-8 is supposed to get 18 MPG, highway and if I'm REALLY careful, I can get a good 15 MPG.
They won't some back on the manufacturers over overinflated ratings, the manufacturers will blame us.
Be careful what someone wishes on us.